Crawley takes lead after first round of match play at U.S. Women's Open

Round 1 Match Play Results

– What started with 108 competitors is now down to just 24 as Round 1 of match play at the U.S. Women’s Open came to a close Sunday night at Royal Pin Woodland in Indianapolis, along with a new overall leader in England’s Verity Crawley.

Before match play began, there was one final qualifying round in the morning to determine the match play participates. Esther Cheah, who started the week having to bowl the pre-tournament qualifier, was the final one in for match play at a 32-game total of 6,638.

In match play, Crawley overtook Latvia’s Diana Zavjalova for the overall lead and is 49 pins ahead of Zavjalova for the No. 1 seed on Tuesday’s stepladder finals with 16 games remaining. Kelly Kulick of Union, New Jersey, Crystal Elliott of Palm Bay, Florida and Jordan Richard of Tipton, Michigan, hold the No. 3-5 seeds heading into tomorrow’s final two rounds of match play.

Malaysia’s Sin Li Jane; Ukraine’s Dasha Kovalova; Breanna Clemmer of Clover, South Carolina; Ashly Galante of Palm Harbor, Florida and Singapore’s New Hui Fen occupy the six through 10 positions, respectively.

Spots four through 10 are only separated by 74 pins and is not a lot of pins to make up when each win in this section of the tournament gives 30 bonus pins, so everyone will be gunning for those last few spots.

Kulick came into match play as the No. 3 qualifier and maintained her position after Round 1 of match play, but gained pins on Crawley and Zavjalova as Kulick won five of her eight matches and knocked down the most pins out of the remaining 24 competitors with an eight-game block of 1,716 before her 150 bonus pins were added in. The 39-foot pattern proved to be tricky to tackle for a majority of the field, but Kulick kept her focus on her physical triggers to stay locked in.

“I’m focusing in on a short first step, really free swing, keeping my head on target so the ball goes where I want it to go,” said Kulick, a three-time winner of the U.S. Women’s Open in 2003, 2010 and 2012. “I also am trying to not be faltered by low games because there will be a rollercoaster of them throughout, as well just staying patient and going from there.”

Kulick showed that she did have a short-term memory when it came to low games, going from a 180 loss in Game 3 to a 246 win the next game and a 177 loss in Game 7 before ending the day on a high note with a 235 win. She also had the highest game of the day in Game 6 with a 278 and will continue her quest for a fourth U.S. Women’s Open title Monday morning at 10 a.m. Eastern.

Kulick how much of a grind this tournament is from start to finish and continued to preach patience in this setting.

“This tournament is like a triathlon, you have those first three patterns to start in qualifying and then the marathon of 24 games of match play. Those 30 bonus pins are crucial and you can’t win it in one ball or one game.”

After Monday’s 16 games of match play, the top five will advance to the live TV stepladder finals Tuesday at 7 p.m. Eastern on CBS Sports Network, where Kulick could make her second straight major telecast after finishing third at the United States Bowling Congress Queens.

Both rounds of match play will be streamed live on BowlTV.